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This was my and my husband's fifth cruise on RCCL (my seventh cruise overall). Based on reviews on CruiseCritic.com (and elsewhere), we decided to try Oasis of the Seas if not just to check out 'the largest cruise ship on the waters'. We decided upon the Eastern Caribbean itinerary. And we decided this time to splurge and get a suite. We live in California, so we opted to fly out early (6 A.M) the day before sailing so we'd have plenty of 'buffer' in the event of any flight delays. The last thing you want to kick off a well-deserved vacation is to be stressing out that you'll literally miss the boat because your red-eye flight on sailing day was cancelled or delayed with missed connections. Nuh uh... the whole family travels extensively for business, so we know better... Our party of six (husband, me, three (twenty-something) sons and future daughter-in-law(?)) met up at the airport in FLL on the day before sailing and spent the night (on hotel points) at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa. While the accommodations were very nice, in hindsight I wouldn't opt for a resort again. Although the point difference wasn't that much higher than a Courtyard or Marriott, it did seem to be a waste since we weren't really there long enough to enjoy the amenities that they charge extra for ($25 per person) and which I didn't see in the fine print when I booked the rooms. With six adults (& lots of luggage) we were going to need something bigger than a mini-van, so I reserved transportation with a local company called FAB2GO, which I found on Yelp and who I recommend if you need transport for a larger party. Great service, reasonable price. EMBARKATION As Suite Guests (with family) embarkation was a BREEZE! Our entire party was allowed to go through the Suite check-in line together for security and then once inside, the kids were able to 'fast-track' to the check-in window for their cabins, while husband and I checked in at the Suite counter. We boarded the ship in less than 30 minutes -- and considering the size of the Oasis of the Seas and the number of passengers boarding, that's some kind of record! THE SHIP Ladies and gentlemen, this ship is MASSIVE! It definitely lives up to the term "mega-ship". The first thing you'll see when you board is the Royal Promenade. You'll swear you just walked into an upscale mall spanning three stories high with curving glass and chrome stairways leading up to cafés and balconies; elevator bays at each end. There are several upscale boutiques and 'sidewalk' cafes scattered along either side on the first two levels. There's the Rising Tide Bar, and open-air area with a dozen or so tables (and bar) encased in clear-glass half-walls, which ascends and descends over the three decks while passengers enjoy a beverage. The Royal Promenade is one of the seven "neighborhoods" on the ship. There's also Central Park, a pleasant meandering outdoor walkway with some 120 live trees and even a bird or two (stowaways?). The Park is bordered by several premium restaurants and cafes. An evening walk under the twinkle-light decked trees and dimly lit streetlamps is the perfect romantic setting. And I swear I heard crickets! The Boardwalk is complete with a carousel, hot dog stand, ice cream parlor, game arcade, a few shops and a Johnny Rockets. Nearby are two rock-climbing walls which the kids enjoyed multiple times. There's also the large Aqua Theater (the first of its kind on any cruise ship, says our RCCL Cruise Director, Drew) which seats over 600 passengers and which features various water and aerial shows (even an International Bellyflop Tournament which is not to be missed). Recent-released movies play various afternoons and evenings on the two giant LED movie screens on either side of the theater. There's also the Sports Deck which hosts a full-size basketball court (also used for volleyball, dodge ball and soccer matches during the cruise), a zipline and two FlowRider (surfing/boogie boarding) areas. Oh, and a tiny miniature golf course. The dining room spans three levels; we were in the Grande Dining Room at the 8:30 PM seating. The Silk dining room was one floor above; the Icon Grill one floor below. Additionally, there is no shortage of food venues on the ship between the kiosks, cafes and restaurants located throughout the ship. Some are free; so cost an additional 'cover' fee. DECK 17 (SUITES) Ahhhh, Deck 17. If there's anything close to heaven on a busy and sometimes crowded cruise ship, it would be Deck 17. This quiet, suite-only deck is where our Crown Loft Suite was located toward the AFT of the ship. There we enjoyed many of the perks of RCCL's Enhanced Program for Suites - and then some! We spent several mornings and afternoons in Concierge Lounge opting to escape the crowds on deck at sailing time, and more notably at mealtimes when the Windjammer Café can be a frustrating experience if you attempt to take a meal during peak mealtimes. Among the amenities we took advantage of in the Concierge Lounge were personalized concierge services, including help with dining and excursion reservations, appointments for spa or salon services, continental breakfast and complimentary snacks and honor bar. A Concierge is usually on duty in the mornings and evenings. The Coastal Kitchen, adjacent to the Concierge Lounge, is open exclusively for Suite guests and Pinnacle members, is claimed to be the best restaurant on the ship. As Suite Guests we even enjoyed ordering dinner in our cabin one of the nights and were able to order from the Dining Room or Coastal Kitchen menus rather than the more limited standard room service menu. The suites on Deck 17 require room key access, so it was always very quiet on our deck and we suffered none of the silly nonsense of 'doorbell ditchers' that other suite guests staying on other decks have had to tolerate, or noisy children running up and down the hallways or loud parties in adjacent or nearby staterooms. While we did see families with children on our deck, we never heard so much as a peep from any of our neighbors (except when we greeted one another in the hallway.) PORTS OF CALL The ports of call were decent, although I think we all agreed that Nassau, Bahamas was our least favorite. The shops were OK, and the beach was only slightly better. Having been to other islands in the Caribbean, including Grand Cayman and Puerto Rico, as well as Jamaica and Haiti, I'd rank Nassau on the lower end of them all. Our favorite stop was Philipsburg, St. Maarten where we ended up renting lounge chairs and umbrellas on Great Bay beach along the Boardwalk and just a short water taxi ride from the pier . The kids and hubby rented wave runners and a couple of us even indulged in a seaside foot or back massage from the various ladies wandering up and down the beach. One tip we read and that I'll pass on: take your time if you opt to rent beach chairs (which is definitely the way to go), particularly if you get there first-thing after the ship arrives. (The price gets better as the competition builds among the various proprietors.) We paid $25 for 6 chairs & umbrellas and an iced bucket of bottled water. Talking to others, some were charged $10-20 per chair/umbrella. So shop around! We liked this arrangement since we had the autonomy to either just lay and bask in the sun, or wander into the nearby Boardwalk shops and restaurants. The water: PERFECT! Our close-second port-of-call was Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas where we went on the St. John Half Day Catamaran and Snorkel excursion. While things got off to a rocky start when we were delayed almost two hours before they picked us up at the pier (we later learned that the delay was due to the regular captain being too hung over to work that day :| and them having to get a replacement) the crew made up for it with their friendly and attentive service. The boat ride on the catamaran to the beach where we snorkeled was a pleasure on such a beautiful day and the crew were very friendly and entertaining. My son's girlfriend even got to drive the boat for a short while (highlight of her day!) The snorkeling itself was a bit so-so compared to snorkeling we've done in Hawaii and on Grand Cayman, but we did see a few interesting critters, including a spotted moray, a small stingray and a handful of small cuttlefish. Oh, and the shuttle ride to and from the catamaran and the pier -- bizarre. They picked us up in open-air shuttles (think amusement park shuttle) and took us on a rather exhilarating if not white-knuckle ride over and across the island. A few steep hills to and from made me send up a small prayer that the brakes on the obviously ancient vehicle were well maintained. My husband was joking that he could pick roadside flowers from his seat. I, in fact, did grab a handful of leaves from one of the trees we passed on the way back to the ship. Inattentive passengers ran the risk of getting slapped upside the head by roadside foliage. FOOD I'll be frank; I've had better. On the last couple of cruises the food has not seemed quite up to par with cruises in earlier days. Just doesn't quite hit the mark; great, but not excellent. That said, if you're not caught up in a sea of hungry people jostling you about (have you ever seen koi at feeding time in a koi pond?), the Windjammer Café is a great venue for variety and a quick meal. If you or your significant other (like mine), or your kids, just want to eat and run, then Windjammer is the place to go. IF you can find a table… The food quality and variety is actually pretty good for buffet. To be honest, the food in the main dining room (on the three nights we ate as a family) was not that impressive overall. Neither was breakfast the one time we tried the main dining room. Service was slow and the food was disappointingly sub-par. In hindsight we should have gone back to Windjammer or ordered room service from the Coastal Kitchen. Husband and I did not opt for any of the premium restaurants (he's just not a foodie) but our son and his girlfriend raved about Izumi (teppanyaki/sushi) and Giovanni's Table (Italian). Their reservation for 150 Central Park (the ship's so-called "showcase" restaurant featuring a 7-course meal and wine pairing among other things) was messed up; the chef evidently left 30 minutes before their reserved dinnertime due to some reservation error. Fortunately they were given a full refund, but were disappointed that they missed out on the experience. ENTERTAINMENT We felt that the headliner shows did not quite live up to our previous RCCL cruises where the headliner show was usually a variety Broadway-like show. On this cruise the headliner was ABBAcadabra, which was basically an American ABBA cover band. While they were decent (after a bit of a shaky start) I just don't think the act measured up to headliner shows we've enjoyed on other cruises. On the other hand, one highlight on this and the previous cruise is the Love & Marriage Game Show. Don't miss it! It's masterfully hosted by the Cruise Director (oddly enough both named "Drew" on the last two cruises, but not the same "Drew") and his assistants and both times has awarded us with hilarious entertainment. There were several karaoke contests throughout the week, but you needed to get there early if you wanted a seat. We were only able to manage one night. In fact, the same could be said for most of the entertainment venues on the ship. For instance, the Stand-up Comedy show can only accommodate 150 people -- on a ship with 5,400 passengers… you do the math. More than on any other cruise our party had difficulty finding two seats together, much less six. The Casino Royal is definitely the largest I've ever seen on a cruise ship, and smokers/non-smokers may be happy to know that the casino is evenly divided into two sections: smoking and non-smoking. And even if you stay on one side or the other, on a ship the size of the Oasis, it's still probably larger than any other single shipboard casino you've been in. Shipboard activities were plenty, however it still felt like a stretch to stay active for two sea days in a row. My husband is a bit of a restless soul and was hard put to keep occupied with the types of activities held throughout the day. Most of them were just not his thing. And unlike me, he's not one for camping out in a lounge chair poolside with a book. So if you're easily bored, think carefully about any itinerary with more than one or two days at sea. I recommend booking your excursions, as well as your entertainment reservations, online as soon as you are confirmed for your trip. As Suite Guests, we did not require any reservations (we simply show up 20 minutes early and are guaranteed the best seats -- or any seats we choose), however the perk only applied to my husband and myself; not to our family. For all other (non-suite or Pinnacle) passengers, some shows require advance reservations (CATS, the Stand-up Comedy Show) or you'll likely not get in. DEBARKATION One initial note about the Valet Service. Take advantage of it! It's $20 per person (complimentary for Suite guests). The kids also opted for it and felt it was well worth the cost. Our boarding passes and luggage tags were delivered to our stateroom on the last evening and after our bags were collected that night, we didn't see them again until we arrived in baggage claim at our final destination. Nice! We were happy not to have to wade through the masses to try to locate our luggage at the port baggage claim area. Otherwise, debarkation was a bit congested (what else can one expect when offloading 5,400 passengers) and there was a long (slow moving) line to get off the ship. In hindsight, we should have taken advantage of another Suite perk and be escorted off the ship (past the long lines). We would have been able to take our family with us. Instead, underestimating the crowds, we opted to stay on the ship until 10:30 AM (seemed a good idea at the time to be able to sleep in one more day). Next time we'll know better. SUMMARY All-in-all, we had a blast. Awesome cabin, excellent service throughout the ship, and it was a novelty to sail on this beautiful mega-ship. With that said, our overall feeling after 7 nights was that bigger (and more) is not better and there's a downside to sailing on a ship with such a large number of passengers (5,400). Most of the venues are simply not large enough to accommodate the masses, so there was often the problem of standing in lines or dealing with crowds and not being able to attend an event without a reservation -- and even with a reservation, not getting to sit with your group if you didn't arrive an hour early. Or even to grab a 'quick' meal at the Windjammer (many passengers were taking their plates back to their cabins.) If I want lines and crowds, I'll go to Disney World :). We also felt that more ports of call, rather than more days at sea, would be better and we will look for that on future cruises. Three days at sea (two of them consecutive at the end of the cruise) is a bit too long, even on a mega-ship like the Oasis. And a final word of caution: in addition to complying with the obligatory hand sanitizing at the numerous Purell stations dotted throughout the ship, stay diligent if you can. You're sharing a relatively small (largely enclosed) space with 8,000 other folks. I'm in excellent health and haven't had so much as a sniffle for almost a year, yet somewhere during the line I picked up a germ and ended up coming down with a pretty nasty head & chest cold at the tail end of the cruise. Flying home was fun… :) Four days later I'm still blowing (literally) through the Kleenex and Sudafed. Heck of a souvenir. Still, I'm thankful that is was just a cold virus and not the dreaded Norovirus (aka "cruise ship virus") that caught up to me. We're already talking about our next cruise. I'm thinking either Alaska or Southern Caribbean; with maximum ports of call.

A Suite Vacation!

Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review by Tigresstwin

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2015
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Crown Loft Suite
This was my and my husband's fifth cruise on RCCL (my seventh cruise overall). Based on reviews on CruiseCritic.com (and elsewhere), we decided to try Oasis of the Seas if not just to check out 'the largest cruise ship on the waters'. We decided upon the Eastern Caribbean itinerary. And we decided this time to splurge and get a suite.

We live in California, so we opted to fly out early (6 A.M) the day before sailing so we'd have plenty of 'buffer' in the event of any flight delays. The last thing you want to kick off a well-deserved vacation is to be stressing out that you'll literally miss the boat because your red-eye flight on sailing day was cancelled or delayed with missed connections.

Nuh uh... the whole family travels extensively for business, so we know better...

Our party of six (husband, me, three (twenty-something) sons and future daughter-in-law(?)) met up at the airport in FLL on the day before sailing and spent the night (on hotel points) at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa. While the accommodations were very nice, in hindsight I wouldn't opt for a resort again. Although the point difference wasn't that much higher than a Courtyard or Marriott, it did seem to be a waste since we weren't really there long enough to enjoy the amenities that they charge extra for ($25 per person) and which I didn't see in the fine print when I booked the rooms.

With six adults (& lots of luggage) we were going to need something bigger than a mini-van, so I reserved transportation with a local company called FAB2GO, which I found on Yelp and who I recommend if you need transport for a larger party. Great service, reasonable price.

EMBARKATION

As Suite Guests (with family) embarkation was a BREEZE! Our entire party was allowed to go through the Suite check-in line together for security and then once inside, the kids were able to 'fast-track' to the check-in window for their cabins, while husband and I checked in at the Suite counter. We boarded the ship in less than 30 minutes -- and considering the size of the Oasis of the Seas and the number of passengers boarding, that's some kind of record!

THE SHIP

Ladies and gentlemen, this ship is MASSIVE! It definitely lives up to the term "mega-ship". The first thing you'll see when you board is the Royal Promenade. You'll swear you just walked into an upscale mall spanning three stories high with curving glass and chrome stairways leading up to cafés and balconies; elevator bays at each end. There are several upscale boutiques and 'sidewalk' cafes scattered along either side on the first two levels. There's the Rising Tide Bar, and open-air area with a dozen or so tables (and bar) encased in clear-glass half-walls, which ascends and descends over the three decks while passengers enjoy a beverage.

The Royal Promenade is one of the seven "neighborhoods" on the ship. There's also Central Park, a pleasant meandering outdoor walkway with some 120 live trees and even a bird or two (stowaways?). The Park is bordered by several premium restaurants and cafes. An evening walk under the twinkle-light decked trees and dimly lit streetlamps is the perfect romantic setting. And I swear I heard crickets! The Boardwalk is complete with a carousel, hot dog stand, ice cream parlor, game arcade, a few shops and a Johnny Rockets. Nearby are two rock-climbing walls which the kids enjoyed multiple times. There's also the large Aqua Theater (the first of its kind on any cruise ship, says our RCCL Cruise Director, Drew) which seats over 600 passengers and which features various water and aerial shows (even an International Bellyflop Tournament which is not to be missed). Recent-released movies play various afternoons and evenings on the two giant LED movie screens on either side of the theater. There's also the Sports Deck which hosts a full-size basketball court (also used for volleyball, dodge ball and soccer matches during the cruise), a zipline and two FlowRider (surfing/boogie boarding) areas. Oh, and a tiny miniature golf course.

The dining room spans three levels; we were in the Grande Dining Room at the 8:30 PM seating. The Silk dining room was one floor above; the Icon Grill one floor below. Additionally, there is no shortage of food venues on the ship between the kiosks, cafes and restaurants located throughout the ship. Some are free; so cost an additional 'cover' fee.

DECK 17 (SUITES)

Ahhhh, Deck 17. If there's anything close to heaven on a busy and sometimes crowded cruise ship, it would be Deck 17. This quiet, suite-only deck is where our Crown Loft Suite was located toward the AFT of the ship. There we enjoyed many of the perks of RCCL's Enhanced Program for Suites - and then some! We spent several mornings and afternoons in Concierge Lounge opting to escape the crowds on deck at sailing time, and more notably at mealtimes when the Windjammer Café can be a frustrating experience if you attempt to take a meal during peak mealtimes. Among the amenities we took advantage of in the Concierge Lounge were personalized concierge services, including help with dining and excursion reservations, appointments for spa or salon services, continental breakfast and complimentary snacks and honor bar. A Concierge is usually on duty in the mornings and evenings. The Coastal Kitchen, adjacent to the Concierge Lounge, is open exclusively for Suite guests and Pinnacle members, is claimed to be the best restaurant on the ship.

As Suite Guests we even enjoyed ordering dinner in our cabin one of the nights and were able to order from the Dining Room or Coastal Kitchen menus rather than the more limited standard room service menu. The suites on Deck 17 require room key access, so it was always very quiet on our deck and we suffered none of the silly nonsense of 'doorbell ditchers' that other suite guests staying on other decks have had to tolerate, or noisy children running up and down the hallways or loud parties in adjacent or nearby staterooms. While we did see families with children on our deck, we never heard so much as a peep from any of our neighbors (except when we greeted one another in the hallway.)

PORTS OF CALL

The ports of call were decent, although I think we all agreed that Nassau, Bahamas was our least favorite. The shops were OK, and the beach was only slightly better. Having been to other islands in the Caribbean, including Grand Cayman and Puerto Rico, as well as Jamaica and Haiti, I'd rank Nassau on the lower end of them all.

Our favorite stop was Philipsburg, St. Maarten where we ended up renting lounge chairs and umbrellas on Great Bay beach along the Boardwalk and just a short water taxi ride from the pier . The kids and hubby rented wave runners and a couple of us even indulged in a seaside foot or back massage from the various ladies wandering up and down the beach.

One tip we read and that I'll pass on: take your time if you opt to rent beach chairs (which is definitely the way to go), particularly if you get there first-thing after the ship arrives. (The price gets better as the competition builds among the various proprietors.) We paid $25 for 6 chairs & umbrellas and an iced bucket of bottled water. Talking to others, some were charged $10-20 per chair/umbrella. So shop around! We liked this arrangement since we had the autonomy to either just lay and bask in the sun, or wander into the nearby Boardwalk shops and restaurants. The water: PERFECT!

Our close-second port-of-call was Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas where we went on the St. John Half Day Catamaran and Snorkel excursion. While things got off to a rocky start when we were delayed almost two hours before they picked us up at the pier (we later learned that the delay was due to the regular captain being too hung over to work that day :| and them having to get a replacement) the crew made up for it with their friendly and attentive service. The boat ride on the catamaran to the beach where we snorkeled was a pleasure on such a beautiful day and the crew were very friendly and entertaining. My son's girlfriend even got to drive the boat for a short while (highlight of her day!) The snorkeling itself was a bit so-so compared to snorkeling we've done in Hawaii and on Grand Cayman, but we did see a few interesting critters, including a spotted moray, a small stingray and a handful of small cuttlefish. Oh, and the shuttle ride to and from the catamaran and the pier -- bizarre. They picked us up in open-air shuttles (think amusement park shuttle) and took us on a rather exhilarating if not white-knuckle ride over and across the island. A few steep hills to and from made me send up a small prayer that the brakes on the obviously ancient vehicle were well maintained. My husband was joking that he could pick roadside flowers from his seat. I, in fact, did grab a handful of leaves from one of the trees we passed on the way back to the ship. Inattentive passengers ran the risk of getting slapped upside the head by roadside foliage.

FOOD

I'll be frank; I've had better. On the last couple of cruises the food has not seemed quite up to par with cruises in earlier days. Just doesn't quite hit the mark; great, but not excellent. That said, if you're not caught up in a sea of hungry people jostling you about (have you ever seen koi at feeding time in a koi pond?), the Windjammer Café is a great venue for variety and a quick meal. If you or your significant other (like mine), or your kids, just want to eat and run, then Windjammer is the place to go. IF you can find a table… The food quality and variety is actually pretty good for buffet. To be honest, the food in the main dining room (on the three nights we ate as a family) was not that impressive overall. Neither was breakfast the one time we tried the main dining room. Service was slow and the food was disappointingly sub-par. In hindsight we should have gone back to Windjammer or ordered room service from the Coastal Kitchen.

Husband and I did not opt for any of the premium restaurants (he's just not a foodie) but our son and his girlfriend raved about Izumi (teppanyaki/sushi) and Giovanni's Table (Italian). Their reservation for 150 Central Park (the ship's so-called "showcase" restaurant featuring a 7-course meal and wine pairing among other things) was messed up; the chef evidently left 30 minutes before their reserved dinnertime due to some reservation error. Fortunately they were given a full refund, but were disappointed that they missed out on the experience.

ENTERTAINMENT

We felt that the headliner shows did not quite live up to our previous RCCL cruises where the headliner show was usually a variety Broadway-like show. On this cruise the headliner was ABBAcadabra, which was basically an American ABBA cover band. While they were decent (after a bit of a shaky start) I just don't think the act measured up to headliner shows we've enjoyed on other cruises.

On the other hand, one highlight on this and the previous cruise is the Love & Marriage Game Show. Don't miss it! It's masterfully hosted by the Cruise Director (oddly enough both named "Drew" on the last two cruises, but not the same "Drew") and his assistants and both times has awarded us with hilarious entertainment.

There were several karaoke contests throughout the week, but you needed to get there early if you wanted a seat. We were only able to manage one night.

In fact, the same could be said for most of the entertainment venues on the ship. For instance, the Stand-up Comedy show can only accommodate 150 people -- on a ship with 5,400 passengers… you do the math. More than on any other cruise our party had difficulty finding two seats together, much less six.

The Casino Royal is definitely the largest I've ever seen on a cruise ship, and smokers/non-smokers may be happy to know that the casino is evenly divided into two sections: smoking and non-smoking. And even if you stay on one side or the other, on a ship the size of the Oasis, it's still probably larger than any other single shipboard casino you've been in.

Shipboard activities were plenty, however it still felt like a stretch to stay active for two sea days in a row. My husband is a bit of a restless soul and was hard put to keep occupied with the types of activities held throughout the day. Most of them were just not his thing. And unlike me, he's not one for camping out in a lounge chair poolside with a book. So if you're easily bored, think carefully about any itinerary with more than one or two days at sea.

I recommend booking your excursions, as well as your entertainment reservations, online as soon as you are confirmed for your trip. As Suite Guests, we did not require any reservations (we simply show up 20 minutes early and are guaranteed the best seats -- or any seats we choose), however the perk only applied to my husband and myself; not to our family. For all other (non-suite or Pinnacle) passengers, some shows require advance reservations (CATS, the Stand-up Comedy Show) or you'll likely not get in.

DEBARKATION

One initial note about the Valet Service. Take advantage of it! It's $20 per person (complimentary for Suite guests). The kids also opted for it and felt it was well worth the cost. Our boarding passes and luggage tags were delivered to our stateroom on the last evening and after our bags were collected that night, we didn't see them again until we arrived in baggage claim at our final destination. Nice! We were happy not to have to wade through the masses to try to locate our luggage at the port baggage claim area.

Otherwise, debarkation was a bit congested (what else can one expect when offloading 5,400 passengers) and there was a long (slow moving) line to get off the ship. In hindsight, we should have taken advantage of another Suite perk and be escorted off the ship (past the long lines). We would have been able to take our family with us. Instead, underestimating the crowds, we opted to stay on the ship until 10:30 AM (seemed a good idea at the time to be able to sleep in one more day). Next time we'll know better.

SUMMARY

All-in-all, we had a blast. Awesome cabin, excellent service throughout the ship, and it was a novelty to sail on this beautiful mega-ship. With that said, our overall feeling after 7 nights was that bigger (and more) is not better and there's a downside to sailing on a ship with such a large number of passengers (5,400). Most of the venues are simply not large enough to accommodate the masses, so there was often the problem of standing in lines or dealing with crowds and not being able to attend an event without a reservation -- and even with a reservation, not getting to sit with your group if you didn't arrive an hour early. Or even to grab a 'quick' meal at the Windjammer (many passengers were taking their plates back to their cabins.)

If I want lines and crowds, I'll go to Disney World :).

We also felt that more ports of call, rather than more days at sea, would be better and we will look for that on future cruises. Three days at sea (two of them consecutive at the end of the cruise) is a bit too long, even on a mega-ship like the Oasis.

And a final word of caution: in addition to complying with the obligatory hand sanitizing at the numerous Purell stations dotted throughout the ship, stay diligent if you can. You're sharing a relatively small (largely enclosed) space with 8,000 other folks. I'm in excellent health and haven't had so much as a sniffle for almost a year, yet somewhere during the line I picked up a germ and ended up coming down with a pretty nasty head & chest cold at the tail end of the cruise. Flying home was fun… :) Four days later I'm still blowing (literally) through the Kleenex and Sudafed. Heck of a souvenir. Still, I'm thankful that is was just a cold virus and not the dreaded Norovirus (aka "cruise ship virus") that caught up to me.

We're already talking about our next cruise. I'm thinking either Alaska or Southern Caribbean; with maximum ports of call.
Tigresstwin’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Crown Loft Suite
Cabin L2 1724
My husband and I decided to splurge on a suite this cruise -- and BOY are we so happy that we did! We were in the Crown Loft Suite (1724) which is one of the AFT suites on Deck 17.

Where do I begin??

First off, I would want to highlight something about being in an AFT Crown Loft Suite (L2) since I was not able to find many reviews for this particular cabin. And what I could find was somewhat ambiguous. Up until we entered the suite, I had reservations about being in a cabin that overlooks a very busy part of the ship, including the mini-golf course, FlowRiders (one on each side of the ship) and the zip line that literally lands two decks directly below our balcony. I was concerned that it would be both noisy and less private. But my husband is a bit of a people watcher and wanted to stick with what we booked.

Folks, we really enjoyed the location. I should also mention that 1724 is a bit off to the side; three in from the end (the ends suites are Sky Loft Suites, I believe). I would suggest aiming for one of the first two Crown Loft Suites on either side rather than the three middle suites if you can. It looked like the middle suites, while sporting larger balconies, may have had a more impeded view of the ocean since they are directly across from the rear structure of the ship. From our location we had a largely panoramic view of the ocean, and also got to enjoy watching the various activities on the sports deck. I enjoyed watching people trying their hand at the FlowRider. On two of the sea days (there are three on this itinerary), I lazed out on the balcony (on the full-sized lounges) and dozed in the warm afternoon listening to the happy sounds of cruise-goers enjoying their vacation. Honestly, it's not much different or busier than laying on the beach. If you're worried about the noise while inside your suite, don't be -- the sliding door to the stateroom seals quite nicely and as soon as you pull the handle up to lock it, you hardly hear any noise at all. And the sheers (one on the main window, another upstairs where the bed is located) offered plenty of privacy. Anyone trying hard enough to peer through the sheer would undoubtedly draw attention to themselves (and be looking for a slap upside the head).

When we first entered the suite, we were greeted by a plate of fresh fruit placed neatly on the dining table and birthday decorations which I had ordered in advance scattered around the room. Our Loft Attendants later greeted us in short order to give us information about the mandatory muster drill as well as an orientation on the room gadgetry; the sheers and drapes on the suite's two-story bay window are operated electronically from a panel near the window (the latter also from the sleeping area). How cool is that? The room lighting is also controlled from a multi-button panel which has settings for morning, afternoon, evening and night and sets the lighting in the room accordingly.

The "living area" with a couch and chair/ottoman accommodated six adults comfortably for a gathering. Honestly I think the suite was bigger than my first apartment! As a result of being two stories high, the suite was very spacious and turned out to be a perfect place to hold my husband's belated birthday party, with decorations, a cake, (and even a cake made out of towels) and presents. The balcony is equally spacious with two full-sized lounge chairs and table.

Plus, as a previous cruise-goer there's just something too fun about having an upstairs and downstairs in your cabin. "Oh, excuse me for a minute, I need to run upstairs and get my sunglasses." :)

A large LED TV takes up a good portion of one wall with some wall-encased Bose speakers providing some decent sound, particularly when I'd leave it on the Menu screen which played much of the same rock music that plays on one of my own Pandora channels. Not sure if some of the older folks would care for it -- but I loved it…says the 53 year-old mom of three boys) :)

The master bedroom is located on the 2nd-floor loft which is enclosed by clear-glass half walls and features a very comfortable Royal King sized bed and another LED TV that descends from the ceiling (more cool gadgetry!). Sheer curtains can be pulled across the loft for additional privacy. The roomy master bathroom has a wide stall shower with two adjustable shower heads and another ceiling "rainbird" showerhead in the center of the shower. The water pressure was quite decent. Also the bath amenities (shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.) seemed to be of good quality. A roomy vanity area sits just outside the bathroom.

Downstairs there's another full-sized bathroom with a generously sized stall shower. In short, we had "hers" and "his" bathrooms; plus it was nice having a guest bathroom when the kids stopped by for a visit.

And the service? Excellent! Our Loft Attendants, Camelia Tudorica and her assistant, Barulla, were just awesome. Best stateroom attendants I can recall from all my cruises.

On our previous (Canada/New England) cruise, husband and I were very disappointed because our attendant, while polite, was pretty scarce -- and we saw not ONE towel critter the entire cruise. We speculated that maybe it was the prepaid gratuity and lack of incentive to go the extra mile; or maybe because we were a superior balcony room on a deck sprinkled with suites. Or maybe they didn't do towel critters anymore. We weren't really sure.

Camelia and Barulla restored our faith in great attendants (and towel critters). In addition to an awesome 'towel birthday cake' which they left in our cabin on sailing day and left with us for the entire cruise, and decorating the suite with birthday decorations and balloons everywhere, we would find a new towel buddy waiting for us almost every night at turndown. I know it sounds silly, but the towel critter has become a tradition on cruises, and we were so happy to find that it hadn't died.

Camelia was very social and always around and eager to answer any questions; she kept us very well informed of anything we needed to know.

I can say without reservation that I can't imagine booking anything but a suite on all future cruises - we felt it was so worth the extras we enjoyed. Not just the extra roomy accommodations, but the extra services made available to us. Sadly, the smaller ships won't have the Crown Loft Suite -- but if you're booking on any of the Oasis class ships and can spare the extra dollars, my husband and I would both very highly recommend this suite.
Deck 18 Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
    We arrived the night before and stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Beach & Spa Resort. Very nice accommodations, but in the future would avoid resort accommodations if not staying at least two days. An additional $25 resort fee is charged but we were unable to take advantage of the offered amenities during our short stay.
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  • Nassau
    Not one of the better ports we've been to in the Caribbean. After making your way through a gauntlet of vendors, taxi drivers and what not, the shops soon become 'same old, same old'. The town seemed grubbier than others I've visited.

    After doing some shopping, we met up with our family (sons/girlfriend) at Junkanoo Beach. The beach was OK and in hindsight were attempting to emulate the more industrious business of beach chair and umbrella rentals that we later enjoyed in St. Maarten.
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  • St. Maarten
    Lots of shopping on the Boardwalk; a decent lunch at one of the cafes fringing the beach, and then we spent the remainder of the day lazing on rented lounge chairs & umbrellas. Rented wave runners and a couple of us indulged in foot and back massages.

    TIP! If you want to rent lounge chairs/umbrellas, take your time and compare prices as you stroll down the Boardwalk. Each segment of the beach (between the lamp posts?) is operated by a different vendor and they're very competitive. They'll follow you ALL the way down the Boardwalk if you show even slight interest. A skilled haggler can probably get a great price. We paid $25 for 6 chairs/umbrellas and a bucket of iced bottled water. Bet that price can be beat if you wait a little after getting off the ship.

    This was our favorite port on the cruise.
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  • St. John Snorkel/Sail
    Despite a late start (word was the regular captain was hung over and a replacement needed to be found), the ship's crew were outstanding and made up for the delay. Beautiful ride to the snorkeling spot. Snorkeling itself was not as nice as we've done in Hawaii and Grand Cayman, but there were still a few critters to see. Snacks and drinks (rum punch anyone?) laid out for the return trip. The shuttle ride to/from the ship to the catamaran is about 30 mins and is a bit of a thrill ride. Please keep arms and legs inside the vehicle at ALL times!
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